Key player in $850M Ponzi scheme pleads guilty

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CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP)

ofile face of a North Carolina online company that took money from tens of thousands of people is pleading guilty for her role in the Ponzi scheme.

Forty-five-year-old Dawn Olivares pleaded guilty Wednesday in federal court in Charlotte to securities fraud conspiracy and tax evasion stemming from the $850 million scam.

Her 31-year-old stepson, Daniel Olivares, also pleaded guilty to securities fraud conspiracy.

Each faces five years in prison.

Dawn Olivares worked closely with Paul Burks of Lexington - the founder of Zeekler.com, a penny auction site, and ZeekRewards, a business designed to drive traffic to the penny auction.

The Securities and Exchange Commission closed both companies in August, 2012.

Prosecutors say Dawn Olivares was a key player in ZeekRewards, diverting more than $7 million for her personal use.